STATES CHRONICLE – DNA could influence our food cravings and be responsible for the high quantity of foods high in sugar and fat that we consume. Research made public recently has shown that the DNA contains some genetic variants that increase the brain’s reward response when it comes to fats and sugar and the foods that contain high amounts of these things.
In a study conducted at Imperial College London, two such genetic variants were discovered, located near the FTO gene, which has already been associated with increased obesity risk, and near the DRD2 gene.
Researchers stated that, depending on what version of the DRD2 gene subjects possessed, the people that also had the FTO variation showed something different: the reactions in their brains when seeing high calorie food items differed. For these people, a part of the brain called the striatum showed increased activity when they were looking at high calorie food.
This is important news, as the DRD2 variant is responsible for altering how dopamine is distributed within the brain. It also suggests that people with the FTO variant are at greater risk of becoming obese because of the dopamine signals in their brains, which increase the feeling of craving when they see foods that are high in sugar and fat and causes them to consume more food items that contain these ingredients.
The researchers used MRI to scan participant’s brain responses and monitor them while showing the subjects pictures of high-calorie and low-calorie foods. Aside from the MRI observation, participants were also asked to rate the pictures containing the food items based on how appetizing and appealing the food looked. Their DNA was also tested so that researchers could look for the faulty gene variation.
This new discovery could help scientists better understand the biological causes of behavioral patterns associated with the development of obesity. It could also help doctors understand how and why people suffering from obesity respond differently to one treatment or the other. For instance, people with this gene variation may have a different reaction to certain obesity treatments, as their craving is triggered by certain types of food and the cause of this craving is on a neurological level.
In the future, the discovery of these gene variants could also help doctors develop better, more personalized treatments for patients suffering from obesity. Treatments could become more targeted and more efficient depending on determining facts such as the faulty genes a person has. This could lead to the treatment of obesity at an individualized level, according to the patient’s medical history and genetic construct as well.
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